IWSG: NaNoWriMo

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

An agent has offered to represent my latest novel, which is a big step in my writing career, but my insecurities are far from over. Now I worry whether any publishers will want my manuscript. And I worry about getting the next one written in a timely fashion. I’m not a fast writer, and I have a stack of projects. Prioritizing will be key.

Question of the Month: Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo (though I’m considering trying to finish Changers 2 by NaNoing it). Of the ones currently listed on the NaNo site, I finished and published all of them. But I’ve done NaNo for a lot longer than the current site shows because I think I made a new account at some point. I’m pretty sure some of my earlier years I either didn’t finish or didn’t publish what I wrote. As I recall, one year I just wrote a lot of fan fiction.

BTW, if you want to be my NaNo friend, I’m mpepper.

Oh! AND . . . You can now preorder the anthology I contributed to. Release date is 11/7.

IWSG + WIPjoy #4

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

What am I insecure about at the moment? How my beta readers will react to my manuscript! That always makes me nervous.

Question of the Month: Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

That’s for me to know and you to figure out!

Seriously, though . . . Probably? I do remember when writing a short story (“Immanent” in The World Ends at Five), I had the girl in the bookstore wearing one of my favorite outfits. It was the outfit I was wearing while walking to work the day I came up with the story, in fact. That’s the only immediate example that springs to mind, but there are probably more instances in my writing that I’m not thinking of.

And now:

4. A line that expresses your theme.

Probably the opening line: “I didn’t even make it home for Dad’s funeral, which sucked enough without everything that came after.”

IWSG: Surprise!

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

What am I insecure about this month? Well, I’m working to finish my WIP for an interested agent. And while I know this agent won’t discard me if I’m a little behind, besides wanting to make a good impression I really just want to be done with this book. I think it has real potential, and I’m eager to get it out there. I’ve enjoyed writing it, but I’ve got a whole line of other projects waiting for my attention. That said, I know better than to rush my work. Lucky for me, the story has been flowing pretty well. It’s almost like I can’t type fast enough to keep up with my brain! And then just carving out the time to write has been tricky lately, too. I’ve got physical therapy twice a week, and the kids have various school things . . . I think I need a writing retreat so I can put my head down and just work without distraction!

Question of the Month: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? (For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in?)

Hmm. Mostly I’m surprised when I haven’t planned a plot twist and yet it’s clear the groundwork had been laid in previous chapters. Like my subconscious has done a ton of work I wasn’t aware of. I love when that happens!

Speaking of, be sure to check out The Adventures of Sel & Am on Wattpad. Two fallen angels attempt to navigate the world . . .

IWSG: Pet Peeves

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

Question of the Month: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

Well, I used to work in publishing as an editor (and sometimes still do freelance work), so I have a healthy list of peeves. I think the thing to keep in mind is: there’s a difference between things that are correct and incorrect versus preferences. Certainly, anything incorrect is annoying, and when an author seems unschooled in basic grammar, that’s a problem for the reader. “Bad writing” can therefore be listed as a peeve. But many writers can at least put a sentence together. Some just have “tics”—little writing quirks. You see it in even the most established authors.

I know one writer who is what I call “comma happy.” I mean, I use commas pretty freely myself, and this guy outstrips me by a lot. Most of the commas are unnecessary, though not “wrong” per se, though I find reading his work halting because of all the pauses the commas create.

Tense problems are something that bother me, and they’re a common problem. Even I make those mistakes. Every peeve I have is one I’ve committed, probably more than once, at that’s what bothers me most.

As for peeves when I’m reading or writing or editing: noise and interruptions, of course!

IWSG: Lessons

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

I recently completed a writing retreat and workshop in France. As idyllic as it sounds, I was insecure about it! Six writers, all strangers (at least to me), in an intimate setting . . . But of course it went beautifully and was a wonderful experience. Now my insecurities are based on living up to all their faith in me and my work! I’ve been given a deadline for Hamlette, which is actually good for me; I work so much better under deadlines, particularly ones imposed by someone other than myself. I’m glad to have people to hold me accountable.

Question of the Month: What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?

I’ve learned so much over the years, so it’s tough for me to narrow it down to just one lesson. I will say that it’s important to set goals. Realistic ones. Bite-sized ones. Know what “success” looks like to you, whether it’s landing an agent and a major publisher, or self-publishing and selling X number of books. And don’t let anyone tell you your personal version of success is wrong. That is, don’t let them tell you what you “should” want. That’s their idea of success; it doesn’t have to be yours. (This is the whole point of my screenplay 20 August, btw.) Anyway, be sure and clear about what you want. Then break that goal into steps and start taking them.

IWSG: Quitters

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

Question of the Month: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

I’ve quit multiple times. Or tried. Writing is an addiction. Or really, for me it’s a vent, an escape valve for all that builds up inside of me. I keep hoping to be heard—I often feel as though no one is listening when I’m trying to tell them something, that no one cares. Maybe, for me, writing is a semi-permanent thing so that one day someone will read and hear and listen and I’ll no longer be ignored. One day I’ll matter.

IWSG: Stranger Things

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

I’m insecure about everything these days. Writing and publishing feels like such a minefield. One false move… The key is to always go back to why I’m writing and find the joy in it. That’s harder to do some days more than others. I worry about whether anyone will like what I’m working on, whether anyone even cares, what if it doesn’t sell, what if this is all for naught? I have to continually remind myself that it’s never for naught if I enjoy it and am satisfied. I’m not looking to make millions (though I wouldn’t say no to that, either); I’m just looking to put my heart into something. And share it. And hope at least a few people get something out of it.

And I have the Bay Area Book Festival next month. What if no one comes to my table? What if no one wants to talk to me, and I just sit there in the heat all day? Ugh. Why did I even sign up to do this?

Oh! But I’m never insecure about doing interviews and guest posts! And today I’m being interviewed by a squirrel! So come take a look!

Question of the Month: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

Um… No idea. Spy stuff for Peter? Animal classifications for Manifesting Destiny? Right now I’m having fun with fairy lore as I write Faebourne… I don’t know how much I’ll use, but it sure is entertaining! And very easy to fall down that rabbit hole and forget to get on with my writing!

IWSG: Too Much = Not Enough

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Read and support writers by clicking here, and if you’re a writer you can also join!

I currently have three different writing projects in the works. Meanwhile, I’m also being slammed by one son’s baseball schedule and the other son’s physical therapy appointments as he learns to walk again after breaking his leg. I can hardly find two minutes to rub together, and when I do, I barely get warmed up before I have to get up and do something else. These days I’m lucky if I even get a paragraph written on any given day. I don’t know how I’ll ever finish writing any of my books!

Sorry for venting, but this is what I’m insecure about this month. Getting my writing done. Prioritizing my projects.

This month’s question: Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?

I’ve participated in A to Z twice. Once as an addendum to my Peter Stoller novellas (this was before The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller was published by Tirgearr), and once as the start of a sequel to The K-Pro. I don’t know that I’d call these “marketing” though the goal was to create greater awareness for the source materials. It’s not clear to me whether it worked in terms of getting people to buy and/or read either St. Peter in Chains or The K-Pro, though I did get a lot of site traffic and a few people have asked whether that K-Pro sequel will ever get written. The answer is: maybe? It’s still on my list of potential projects.

By the way, did you know this is also Read Self-Published Month? Visit the Facebook group to find out more and find some great new reads! And don’t forget you can read Brynnde for FREE via Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited!

IWSG: Blocked!

InsecureWritersSupportGroup It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Read and support writers by clicking here, and if you’re a writer you can also join!

Writer’s block is what has me insecure this month. I simply can’t seem to make headway with the Changers sequel, and that’s causing a certain amount of anxiety in me. I’ve got a little over 20k words written, and now I’m well and truly stuck. I’ve tried just writing through it, but no. I’ve outlined, so I know where I need to go, I just feel like a wagon with its wheels in the mud. I’ve considered skipping the chapter I’m on and writing the rest, but I can’t work that way—I’m a linear writer. I’ve dabbled with other projects on the side, but I know this book needs to get finished, and that’s probably making things that much worse. *headdesk* Anyone else want to write this book for me?

Question of the Month: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Uh, I’ve pulled out some old stuff now and then and looked at it. I’ve even thought, I should do something with this. And then I never do. I don’t know why. In particular, I would like to rework my Master’s thesis, which was a middle grade historical fantasy. It’s on my list of project, but I don’t know if or when I’ll ever actually be ready to tackle it.

IWSG: New Frontiers

InsecureWritersSupportGroup It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Read and support writers by clicking here, and if you’re a writer you can also join!

This month I’m both nervous and excited. Nervcited? A couple of things are happening: 1. I’m putting out a new book in a completely new genre for me. I’ve long loved reading Regency romances but never thought to write one until now. I’d been writing a lot of heavy books and found myself needing a lighter project. I was just playing around, really, but found I loved it! So I’m hoping you will all enjoy Brynnde too, and that I’ll find fellow Regency lovers to read it. 2. I’m doing an audiobook! I attended a talk about audiobooks at last year’s InD’Scribe and it really planted the seed for me to want to have one of my books adapted to that format. I don’t know yet how it will work out, but I’m hopeful. So far I’ve had some great auditions and plan to pick a narrator soon. Stay tuned!

As for being nervcited, well, of course there’s the nagging fear of: What if it all goes to hell? What if it all fails? But I’ll never know until I try, right?

Question of the month: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

I recently noticed this as I was re-reading Dune and then again while reading Anne Perry’s The Face of a Stranger—that my knowledge of “rules” for writing sometimes pulls me out of a book when I notice one of those rules being broken. And the truth is, these writing rules are relatively modern and new, and the books cited above are somewhat older and probably not beholden to those rules. But I still noticed. In the same way that I notice things in movies because I have a film degree and also have worked on film sets. I think any time you have experience in an area, you’re going to notice things, for good or ill. You’ll get the inside jokes but you’ll also notice the errors.